18/01/2019 16:15 GMT

UK Weather: Councils Stockpile 1.4m Tonnes Of Grit As Cold Snap Takes Hold

There are weather warnings in place for more snow and ice this weekend.

Councils have stockpiled 1.4m tonnes of grit in preparation for more snow and plunging temperatures expected this weekend. 

Overnight frosts and further snow are forecast to continue on Saturday and Sunday and the Met Office has issued a yellow warning for possible snow over hills in the south of Scotland, northern England and north Midlands.

Between one and four centimetres of snow could accumulate in the highest areas, forecasters said.

Some roads and railways are likely to be affected as a band of rain, sleet and snow moves slowly east across England and southern Scotland.

Councils have been preparing for bad weather and some already deployed gritters.

In Lancashire, the county council’s fleet of 45 gritters have been in action today ahead of a band of rain, sleet and snow due to hit the county this afternoon. Meanwhile gritting crews have also been out in Leicestershire.

Chief meteorologist Andy Page said the cold weather will continue into next week. 

He added: “On Monday and early Tuesday, a band of heavier rain, hill snow and strong winds will move quickly south across the UK, followed by wintry showers for the middle of the week.

“Some of the showers will be heavy bringing a mixture of rain, hail, sleet and snow, most frequently across parts of the north and west.”

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Ongoing funding pressures on local authorities have resulted in limited resources, which means more than half (55%) of councils will share salt stocks, 30% will share gritting machinery, and one-in-five (22%) plan to team up across their boundaries to send staff to key locations.

Martin Tett, the Local Government Associations’s transport spokesman, said: “Councils are well prepared for snow and ice this weekend and sub-zero temperatures throughout winter, with an abundance of salt stockpiled.

“Winter preparation is a key priority for councils, despite ongoing funding pressures and competing demands on their limited resources. Across the country, local authorities have again risen to the challenge and already put measures in place to protect their residents from floods, ice, and wintry conditions.

“Councils are constantly monitoring the weather, with up-to-the-minute reports to stay one step ahead. Depots are filled with 1.4m tonnes of salt and gritters are ready to be deployed instantly to make sure our local roads are clear and open to our residents where possible.”

Tett said council teams across the country will also spend the winter months checking in on elderly and vulnerable residents to make sure they are well and coping, and we encourage communities to spare a bit of time looking out for each other.

“This could be a simple knock at the door to check on an elderly neighbour, or helping to carry out emergency repairs, because everyone has a role to play to keep each other safe this winter,” he added.

Communities are also being asked to support council teams in checking in on those who may find getting out and about more difficult.

Dr Emer O’Connell, of Public Health England, said: “Experience shows us that every winter thousands of people are seriously affected and even die from illnesses linked to the cold. Protecting yourself from the cold may seem like common sense but many people do not manage to keep themselves warm

 “If you know someone at risk, someone over 65, anyone with dementia or a heart and lung condition, or a young child, check up on them and see if there’s anything you can do to help.

“All of us should be heating our homes to at least 18C, keeping up to date with weather forecasts and planning our days around them - simple steps can really help protect against the cold.”

Earlier on Friday, the Met Office announced that temperatures in Aboyne in Aberdeenshire had plunged to -10.7C, making it the UK’s coldest night of the winter so far.